Ziba Peterson was born about 1810 and was baptized and became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 18, 1830. He was baptized in Fayette, New York, and became an elder sometime in that year, being listed as one at the first conference of the Church. He worked, at various times, as a teacher, a lawyer, and a law officer.
In October of that year, he was issued a call to serve as a missionary with Parley P. Pratt, Peter Whitmer, Jr., and Oliver Cowdery. Together, the four men walked more than 1500 miles to teach Native Americans near Buffalo, New York. They took a side trip to Ohio in what turned out to be a very inspired diversion. While teaching in Mentor, Ohio, they had the opportunity to share the gospel with many men who would later become important leaders in the church and who would play essential roles in Mormon history. They contacted Sidney Rigdon, who was then a Campbellite preacher. He would later become a counselor to Joseph Smith. Through his willingness to hear the gospel and to encourage others to hear it that day, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, Lyman Wight, Newel K. Whitney, Levi Hancock, and John Murdock would be baptized. Two other men who would be important to the church also heard the gospel on that journey, although they did not join until later. They were Edward Partridge and Orson Hyde. Altogether, they brought 130 new members into the Church in the one month they spent in the area.
Fifty of those new converts already lived in Kirtland, Ohio, and it became the center for the Church in Ohio. After some three hundred Mormons were there, the Lord directed Joseph Smith through revelation to make it the new Church center. Mormons from around the country began to gather there.
Doctor Frederick G. Williams joined the four men and they again began to travel. They again taught Native Americans, this time in Sandusky, Ohio, and then moved on. It was a harsh winter and they had to travel on foot, sometimes surviving on frozen pork and bread. The journey was very difficult, but they arrived in Jackson County, Missouri near the end of January.
Three of the men continued their missionary work, but Peter Whitmer and Ziba Peterson opened a tailor shop to earn the funds necessary for the work to continue. In August of 1831, Joseph Smith received a revelation rebuking Peterson for trying to hide his sins. Joseph was instructed to take from Peterson what the church had given him until he repented, including his place as a church elder. Peterson married Rebecca Hooper a few days after this revelation. He was re-ordained an elder in October of 1832 by Lyman White, but was excommunicated by June 25, 1833. Parley P. Pratt wrote that Peterson had turned away from the Church. In 1848 he moved to California and became the sheriff. He served in this position until 1849. He died that year in Hangtown, California, which later became known as Placerville.
Terrie Lynn Bittner is the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that have appeared in LDS magazines. She is married to Lincoln Bittner and is the mother of three grown children and grandmother to two girls. Terrie became a Mormon at the age of seventeen and has been sharing her faith online since 1992. She can also be found blogging about being an LDS woman at LatterdaySaintWoman.com.